Just Believe: the search for a cure

By Staff Writer
November 12, 2004


Have you ever wished you could stop a child’s pain? Have you ever wanted to help save a child’s life? These were the questions posed this week by the Cabrini cheerleading squad as they began taking orders for the JUSTBELIEVE bracelets. This sale was unlike traditional fundraisers in that two-thirds of the proceeds generated were sent directly to the Dylan James Manning Foundation for Tay-Sachs, an organization that seeks to foster awareness of this terminal disease and provide money to help find a treatment or cure. To fully understand the importance of this foundation, you must first know a little about the precious boy it was named after.

According to his parents, Dylan, also known as DJ, is their “little angel sent from God.” Although they were pregnant five times, Dylan was their first and only child to survive. If you were to reference his “favorite” things you would think Dylan is just another happy-go-lucky child. His parents list the following on their website among the things Dylan loves the most: “balloons, books, music (especially, LeAnn Rimes and the “Happy Birthday” song), playing the computer with Daddy, tubby time, eating ice cream, riding in his “DJ Express Wagon,” giving High-Fives, swimming with Grandpop, his friends at Nanny’s daycare, oh and lots of TLC, too!!!” However, this 2-year-old boy has a great deal more to endure than most children his age. On April 7, 2003, he was officially diagnosed with Tay-Sachs. According to the Manning’s website, “Tay-Sachs disease is a fatal genetic disorder in children that causes progressive destruction of the central nervous system resulting in blindness, deafness, retardation, paralysis and ultimately death.” Children with the disease appear normal when they are born, but even in the best of circumstances, do not usually live beyond the age of five. Despite our modern advances in medicine, no cure or even effective treatment has been found for Tay-Sachs.

Megan Eller, freshman cheerleader who is spearheading the sale of the JUSTBELIEVE bracelets at Cabrini, has been involved with the Manning’s foundation since last Valentine’s Day, when her family as well as other members of the St. Joseph parish in Downingtown, Pa. participated in the sale of Blue Mountain candles to help raise money for the cause. According to Eller, the family got the idea for the JUSTBELIEVE bracelets from the yellow LiveStrong bracelets that benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help fight cancer. In just about a month, 15,000 JUSTBELIEVE bracelets have already been sold.

Having personally known Dylan and his family, Eller decided to bring the fundraiser to Cabrini, knowing that the generosity of the students here could make a big difference. “The more money we raise, the better the chance to find a cure,” she noted. During my interview with her, Eller was brought to tears when talking about Dylan. “If you ever get the chance to meet Dylan, you’ll notice him because his smile and eyes light up the room.” She went on to comment about the nickname of “Angel” that is often given to Tay-Sachs babies, saying that it was a perfect description of Dylan. Finally, she read me a small portion of “DJ’s Story,” which was composed just after Dylan’s diagnosis.

If you still don’t feel connected with Dylan and would like to know what he’s going through, visit his website and read this letter, written from his perspective, which, as Eller pointed out, will “rip your heart out.” Here is just a small piece of it: “Please don’t cry for me, instead, pray that my family finds the strength to comfort and care for me so that I may accomplish my mission…Hopefully they will find a cure for the next generation of us babies so that no other child has to live this way…So, if it is truly God’s will that I must go, PLEASE ask God to let the miracle be the strength my mommy and daddy will need to HONOR my life.”

For those who did not take part in the fundraiser this week and would still like to, do not fear. After Thanksgiving break when the order of bracelets comes in, the cheerleaders will sell them once again. The bracelets will cost $3, $2 of which will be sent to the Dylan Manning Foundation for Tay-Sachs and $1 of which will go towards the uniforms for the cheerleaders.

“JUSTBELIEVE in Life, JUSTBELIEVE in Miracles, JUSTBELIEVE in a Cure.” For more information about the Dylan and his foundation, please visit http://www.djsfoundation.org/. Remember, you really can make a difference if you “just believe.”

Posted to the web by Jenna Nash

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Staff Writer

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